A tally of 3-3 from attacker Cathriona McConnell helped National League champions Monaghan into the semi-finals of the TG4 Ladies Football All-Ireland semi-final with a 4-15 to 2-14 win over Mayo at Dr Hyde Park.
Leading by six points at half-time, Monaghan responded well to a brief second-half resurgence from their opponents to finish strongly and book their place in the last four.
Things might have turned out very differently for Mayo had Aileen Gilroy goaled in the second minute, but instead her shot came crashing back off the crossbar and, while the same player did open the scoring with a point, it was the only time they led.
Monaghan seized the lead in the fifth minute when centre-back Nicole Fahy made a good run and found Ciara McAnespie, and she in turn played in McConnell, who rifled a shot to the net.
McConnell and Niamh Kindlon then opened up a four-point lead before Cora Staunton stemmed the flow, but overall Monaghan were defending very well with a high intensity, though Deirdre Doherty’s point on 20 did leave a goal between them again, 1-4 to 0-4. Cora Staunton and then Yvonne Byrne had goal chances but were denied by a fine Linda Martin double-save and from there Monaghan pushed on with points from Amanda Casey and three super Kindlon frees to lead 1-8 to 0-5 at half-time.
That lead had stretched to seven points after Kindlin and McAnespie scored early in the second half, but Cora Staunton gave Mayo hope when she won a clearance and finished to the top corner after a good run.
Almost immediately, though, Monaghan cancelled that out when McConnell’s second goal, following a good team move, made it 2-10 to 1-5, but Mayo got a stroke of luck when Gilroy’s delivery from halfway bounced all the way through and over goalkeeper Martin to the net.
Points from Staunton and Doherty had Mayo back to within four, 2-12 to 2-8, but they suffered from the loss of captain Claire Egan to a yellow card and two from Kindlon restored Monaghan’s lead before McConnell’s hat-trick goal, again from a Ciara McAnespie assist.
Midfielder Amanda Casey then capped a fine display when she punched home from Mohan’s delivery and though Staunton and Doherty did get late points for Mayo, they were never going to wipe out the deficit.
Scorers for Monaghan: C McConnell 3-3, N Kindlon 0-8 (0-7f), A Casey 1-1, C McAnespie, A McAnespie, C Mohan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Mayo: C Staunton 1-8 (0-4f), D Doherty 0-4, A Gilroy 1-1, S Rowe 0-1.
MONAGHAN: L Martin; G McNally, S Courtney, T McNally; N Fahy, C Reilly, A McAnespie; A Casey, E McElroy; C Courtney, L McEnaney, E McCarron; C McConnell, N Kidlon, C Courtney.
Subs: C Mohan for Courtney (24), E McKenna for Kindlon (60).
MAYO: A Tarpey; A Bell, N Tierney, S Tierney; C Connolly, M Corbett, M Carter; A Gilroy, C Egan; N Kelly, C Staunton, F McHale; Y Byrne, S Rowe, D Doherty.
Subs: C Hegarty for Kelly (21), A Brennan for Hegarty (46).
Referee: MJ O’Keeffe (Cork).